September 23, 2021
China - Yunnan - Jianshui

Organized trip to Yunnan: 12 days in China with driver and guide

Organized trip to Yunnan: Discover the most authentic and diverse province in China

If you are looking for an organized trip to Yunnan, you are in the right place. On Lonely Planet, the world’s most famous travel guide, there’s a section that says, If you want to go to China but only have time to see one province, that should definitely be Yunnan.” (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & the Greater Mekong – Lonely Planet)

Traveling in China can be complicated by the language barrier so the route includes an experienced guide who has lived in Yunnan for years and will make your trip much easier. 

Yunnan is a little bigger than Spain so we recommend to stay a minimum of 12 days. Moving around China, looking for stations, buying tickets, taking a taxi, etc. can sometimes be very heavy too. Therefore, the route is planned to be done with a private driver who will take you wherever you want. Without a doubt it is a life saver for any trip in China and, above all, for Yunnan, a province still not used to tourism.

Organized trip to Yunnan: What goals did we set for ourselves during our 12-day tour of Yunnan?

In these 12 days trip to Yunnan the objectives we set ourselves will be: 

  1. Get to know the different ethnic minorities in Yunnan, their customs and way of life.
  2. Visit mountain villages that have remained the same for over a hundred years.
  3. Visit villages that have managed to preserve ancient Chinese architecture.
  4. Walk among millenary rice terraces and enjoy the peace that surrounds them.
  5. Discover the highest river canyons in the world.
  6. Enjoy the beautiful temples and the varied parks of Yunnan.
  7. Taste the local gastronomy and get to know the Chinese culture.

Itinerary of the organized trip to Yunnan: Route Map

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Organized trip to Yunnan – Itinerary through Yunnan:

The following is a step-by-step account of the 12-day route through Yunnan, where we will see incredible places but also live unique experiences:

Day 1: Kunming, “The Spring City”

Kunming: The capital of Yunnan is known as “The Spring City” for its good climate. It is 1800m above sea level. We will visit Yuantong Temple, the largest temple in Kunming, and Green Lake, the lake in the center of the city to see the traditional dances of Yunnan. Overnight in Kunming.

Day 2 & 3: Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces: Visit to one of the best rice fields in all of China. Yuanyang it is 320 km far from Kunming. Accommodation in Xinjie. The first day we will visit the rice terraces of Bada and Duoyishu, one of the most famous. The second day we will make a route between rice terraces and villages in the area and see the famous viewpoint of Laohuzui.

Day 4 & 5: Jianshui

From the terraces of Yuanyang we will go to Jianshui at 110Km from Xinjie. On the way we will stop to see the Double Dragon Bridge (Shuang Long Qiao) built during the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century and visit TuanShan, a very well preserved ancient village 13Km from Jianshui. We will stay in Jianshui.

The second day in Jianshui we will see the old part of Jianshui, the Temple of Confucius and the main wall similar to the one you can find in the Forbidden City of Beijing. Then on the third day in the morning we will go to Dali.

Day 6 & 7: Dali Old Town

Dali: One of Yunnan’s most famous cities for its old town. On the first day we will visit the old town which is surrounded by walls and has managed to preserve the traditional architecture of the Bai ethnic minority. On the second day we will take a tour of Lake Erhai, one of the largest lakes in China. We will stop at different fishing villages and visit the Three Dali Pagodas. At 320 Km from Kunming. The two days we will stay in the ancient part of Dali.

Day 8: Shaxi

Shaxi: Two hours from Dali is this quiet village historically known as a tea and horse trading centre. We will visit Shibao Mountain, home to some of the most important stone carvings in China. Shaxi, still away from tourism, is perfect for immersing yourself in the China of dynasties and emperors. It is 150km from Dali. Accommodation in the old town of Shaxi.

Day 9 & 10: Tiger Leaping Gorge & Shangrila

Visit to Tiger Leaping Gorge, the highest river canyons in the world, passing through Shigu village. In Shigu we can enjoy the spectacular views of the Yangse River. Then we will continue to Shangrila.

At an altitude of 3300m, Shangrila is the capital of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. The majority of the inhabitants are ethnic Tibetans and both the architecture of the houses and the temples are Tibetan style. Just arriving here will make you feel like you are in Tibet itself. In Shangrila we will know the ancient part and its surroundings, full of Tibetan temples and abundant nature. 220km from Shaxi. Accommodation in the ancient part of Shangrila.

Day 11: Lijiang Ancient City

Lijiang is possibly the most charming village in Yunnan but also the most touristic. Stone bridges, streams, cobbled streets and houses of traditional Chinese architecture make it still worth a visit. We will get to know the Naxi culture, the ethnic minority from Tibet and currently the largest in the area. The old part of Lijiang was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. 180Km from Shangrila. Lodging in the old part of Lijiang.

Day 12: Kunming

Free morning in Lijiang. Going back to Kunming. Farewell dinner in Kunming. Next day our driver will take us to the airport.

Services included in the route

To make your trip easier, we have included in the price of the route:

  • 12 days of hotel.
  • Breakfast at the hotels.
  • Private English-speaking guide for the entire trip.
  • Car with private driver for the whole trip.
  • Tickets to temples and parks.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Plane ticket.

Services not included

  1. Lunches and dinners (you will hardly spend more than 10 euros a day). If you want, we can include it too.
  2. Chinese visa (in the Chinese Embassy of your country they should tell how to apply for tourist visa).

Frequently asked questions about the 12-day route through Yunnan

  1. The price of the ticket varies according to the dates and place of departure. For example, from Madrid to Kunming or from Barcelona to Kunming, a return flight ticket usually costs between 500 – 800 euros.
  2. Most hotels are 3 or 4 star. We have looked for accommodations that combine a modern style with the traditional style of each place we are going to visit so that one can enjoy the essence of the place but also not lack anything.
  3. Breakfast is included in all hotels. Sometimes it’s free buffet or menu choice. In almost all hotels you can choose between western or eastern breakfast.
  4. The best season to visit the water-filled rice terraces of Yunnan is between December and February. The weather in Yunnan is usually good almost all year round, so if you come in the summer, during the rainy season, it is possible to get a shower.
  5. Our drivers are Chinese and our guides are Spanish or Latin American with experience, with good Chinese and English communication skills and residents in Yunnan for years.
  6. In total you need 14 days of vacation: the day of the trip to China, 12 days in Yunnan and the day of return home.

Organized Trip to Yunnan: Travel as a couple, with friends or in a group

You can choose to travel as a couple, with friends or in an organized group. If you prefer to travel as a couple or with friends we can organize a trip to Yunnan for you at any time of the year. If you choose to travel in an organized group, we have divided the groups into fortnights. The groups are minimum of 2 people and maximum of 5. 

  1. First half of July
  2. Second half of July
  3. First half of August
  4. Second half of August
  5. First half of September

Price of the 12-day trip to Yunnan

The price of the trip varies according to the people who come on the trip:

  • 2 Persons: 2000 euros per person + Airplane ticket
  • 3 Persons: 1750 euros per person + Airplane ticket
  • 4 Persons: 1550 euros per person + Airplane ticket
  • 5 Persons: 1400 euros per person + Airplane ticket

The route can be open to variables and changes depending on the convenience of the travelers and other circumstances. Whenever possible we will try to organize a trip as personalized as possible.

Feel free to check out the blog for more information on each city. Also, here I talk about the 8 best places to visit if you are coming to Yunnan. You may also be interested in our other route in the south of Yunnan focused on nature. Take a look at the two itineraries to see which one you like the most.

If you decide to take a trip to China and visit Yunnan, you can contact us for any questions you may have about our organized trip to Yunnan, specify the method of payment and tell us what dates you would like to come on the trip. 

Attention: Due to the Covid-19, it is not currently possible to obtain a tourist visa to go to China. Therefore, we only organize trips for those who are already resident in China.

    We don’t travel to escape life, we travel so that life doesn’t escape us.

    Yunnan Terrazas de arroz de Yuanyang 500x135 - Organized trip to Yunnan: 12 days in China with driver and guide
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    Marcos Silva

    Hi! I'm Marcos. One summer day I decided to go on a trip around Asia to see the world and I liked it so much that I ended up staying. Almost without realizing it, I have been in Asia for 7 years, of which I have spent most of my time living in China and traveling to countries like Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, India... Now I dedicate myself to writing on the travel blog and organizing routes around China where I also guide.

    View all posts by Marcos Silva →

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